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Prevent the the cessation of refugee status for Rwandans fearing return

30 Apr

Prevent the the cessation of refugee status for Rwandans fearing return

Why this is important

In July 2013, UNHCR plans to invoke the Cessation Clause for Rwandan refugees who fled events occurring in the country between 1959 and 1998. If states follow this recommendation, international protection of those refugees who fled Rwanda during this period will end. The guidelines surrounding the Cessation Clause state that it should only be invoked when fundamental, durable and positive changes have taken place that mean that a well founded fear of persecution no longer exist in a particular country. Invoking the Cessation Clause thus suggests that reasons for being a refugee have ceased to exist in Rwanda. However in stating that those who fled after 1998 still have a well founded fear of persecution, UNHCR contradicts the idea that real changes have occurred in Rwanda, instead demonstrating that it is not a safe country.


24 Apr



Justice for Habyalimana & Ntaryamira Campaign

Rwanda’s first female pilot takes to the skies at 24

15 Mar

Friday 15 March 2013

Esther Mbabazi trained to fly Rwandair regional jets despite her aviator father being killed in a plane crash when she was eight

Rwanda’s first female pilot, Esther Mbabazi, 24, said ‘being a pilot really was my childhood dream’. Photograph: Sean Jones for the Guardian

Esther Mbabazi was eight years old when her father was killed in a crash as the plane he was flying in overshot the runway landing in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

So when, a few years later she announced her intention to train as a pilot, the planwas not well received by some of her family. But at the age of 24, Mbabazi has made history as the first female Rwandan pilot – although as a woman she says she doesn’t make flight announcements because it scares the passengers.

“Some people questioned why I wanted to do it, they thought I wanted to be a pilot to find out what happened to my dad, but that didn’t have anything to do with it,” Mbabazi said.

“Being a pilot really was my childhood dream, I don’t think anything was going to stop it. It started when I travelled with my family and we would get the free things for kids, like the backpacks. I really liked that and I just liked to travel. The whole intrigue of this big bird in the sky, I was amazed. That and the free backpacks planted the seed.”

Mbabazi, who is fluent in five languages, trained at the Soroti flight school in Uganda before being sponsored to continue her training in Florida by national carrier Rwandair. She now flies the company’s CRJ-900 regional jets across Africa.

The death of her father has influenced the way she flies. “It has moulded my character as a pilot, and I think what happened to my dad makes me a little more safe. It could have stopped me, but an accident is an accident. If someone is knocked over in a car you don’t stop driving. As a pastor’s child I know that you have to let stuff go.”

One person who never questioned Mbabazi’s plans was her mother, Ruth. A strong farmer and businesswoman, she wasn’t fazed to see her daughter take to the air after what the death of her husband, who was a Pentecostal pastor before his death.

“I didn’t get any resistance from my mum,” Mbabazi said. “In her time she was the only girl in her electricity class, so she doesn’t have any issues with what I do. She has five children and whether we want to do fashion or aviation, as long as we’re doing something we’re interested in, she’s happy.”

Mbabazi was born in Burundi, where her family had moved in 1994 before Rwanda‘s genocide. The family moved back to Rwanda in 1996.

While not without its critics, particularly on human rights issues, Rwanda is now a secure and rapidly developing country. GDP grew by 7.7% last year and the government claims to have lifted one million people out of poverty in five years. Particular progress has been made towards gender equality. Women make up more than half of MPs.

“Things are changing in Rwanda,” says Mbabazi. “Before you wouldn’t find women driving taxis here, and now you see it. There are men who cook now in Rwanda, when, in an African culture, women have to cook. So I think eventually things change. If you really work hard and you prove that you can do something well, I don’t think there’s a question of you being a woman, it doesn’t come into the equation.

“There are not so many male Rwandan pilots either. So even though I am the first female, my colleagues are the first male Rwandan pilots to be flying commercial planes. So I think it’s a big change for all of us Rwandans and something that should be celebrated.”

Source: The Guardian

Rwanda opposes use of drones by the UN in eastern Congo

9 Jan


Surveillance drones generated new interest when M23 rebels (pictured) took over parts of eastern Congo. Reuters: Goran Tomasevic

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Rwanda on Tuesday opposed the use of surveillance drones in eastern Congo as proposed by the United Nations until there is a full assessment of their use, saying it did not want Africa to become a laboratory for foreign intelligence devices.

Envoys said U.N. peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous told the Security Council during a closed-door session that the U.N mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo plans to deploy three unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as drones, in the country’s conflict-torn eastern provinces.

The United Nations has wanted surveillance drones for eastern Congo since 2008. Alan Doss, the former head of the U.N. peacekeeping force there at the time asked the Security Council for helicopters, drones and other items to improve real-time intelligence gathering.

The request was never met, but the idea generated new interest last year after M23 rebels began taking over large swathes of eastern Congo.

Rwanda, which has denied allegations by U.N. experts that it has been supporting M23, made clear it considered Ladsous’ call for deploying drones premature.

“It is not wise to use a device on which we don’t have enough information,” Olivier Nduhungirehe, Rwanda’s deputy U.N. ambassador, told Reuters. “Africa shall not become a laboratory for intelligence devices from overseas.”

The spokesman for the French U.N. mission, Brieuc Pont, said in a statement on France’s Twitter feed: “MONUSCO needs additional, modern assets, including drones, to be better informed and more reactive.”

Council diplomats said the United States, Britain and other council members were also supportive of the idea of using drones in eastern Congo.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is expected to submit a report to the Security Council in the coming weeks recommending ways of improving the U.N. force in Congo, known as MONUSCO.

The U.N. force in Congo suffered a severe blow to its image in November after it failed to intervene when well-equipped M23 rebels seized control of the eastern Congolese city of Goma. The rebels withdrew after 11 days.

Congolese troops, aided by U.N. peacekeepers, have been battling M23 – who U.N. experts and Congolese officials say are backed by both Rwanda and Uganda – for nearly a year in the mineral-rich east of the country.

Diplomats said the Rwandan delegation informed the Security Council behind closed doors on Tuesday that MONUSCO would be a “belligerent” if it deployed drones in eastern Congo now.

Nduhungirehe explained this position, saying it was vital to know before deploying drones what the implications would be for individual countries’ sovereignty. He said Rwanda had no problem with helicopters, night-vision equipment or other high-tech gadgetry for the U.N. peacekeeping force.

Other diplomats, including some from Europe, have also expressed reservations. They said there were unanswered questions about who would receive the information from the drones and how widely it would be disseminated. They expressed discomfort at the idea of the United Nations becoming an active gatherer of intelligence.

Russia and China are among the nations on the council that have concerns about the deployment of drones in eastern Congo, diplomats told Reuters.

Western diplomats from countries that support the deployment of drones say Rwanda’s opposition is the first manifestation of the difficulties they expect to face over Congo while Rwanda is on the Security Council for the next two years.

(Editing by Christopher Wilson and Stacey Joyce)

Source: Reuters


A Conversation with Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda

25 Dec

A Conversation with Paul Kagame, President of Rwand

For the past 12 years, President Paul Kagame has ruled Rwanda with a firm hand, stabilizing a country that was torn apart by genocide only 18-years ago. Nevertheless, his opponents say his rule has come at a cost—harassment of journalists, politically motivated killings, and a crackdown on human rights defenders. Above all, Kagame has been accused of supporting a violent rebel insurgency in eastern Congo, a charge he repeatedly and vehemently denies.

Inside Story Americas – The US role in the DR Congo conflict

7 Dec
6 Dec

Rising Continent

The Rwandan Patriotic Front [RPF] invaded Rwanda on October 1st 1990. By 1992, Paul Kagame’s rebellion fully supported by Joweri Museveni occupied a fraction of the Rwandan territory bordering Uganda. RPF rebels managed to put military pressure on Habyarimana’s government for their grievances, as M23 is doing with the Congolese authorities. 

View original post 790 more words

17 Oct

Rising Continent

Congolese and African Diaspora are continuing to lobby seeking change in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Under the chairmanship of British MP Jeremy Corbyn and at the initiative of Ms Victoria Dimandja of Liberation Congolese Women’s Group, a meeting for solidarity with the people of D.R.Congo was held on 16 October 2012 at Portcullis House, Embankment, SW1, London, from 7.30 pm to 9.00 pm.

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UN Announces Second Death of Rwandan Peacekeeper in Haiti

25 Sep

September 24, 2012

Above: UN peacekeepers in Haiti (UN Photo/Logan Abassi)

By the Caribbean Journal staff

A second peacekeeper from Rwanda’s Formed Police Unit in Haiti has been killed, the UN peacekeeping mission announced Monday.

The death of Sergeant Aloys Nsengiyumva comes after the shooting of 34-year-old Rwandan peacekeeper Bisangwa Hassan earlier this month.

The “lifeless body” of Nesngiyumva was found by Rwandan police Sunday night behind the Uruguayan military’s camp.

According to an investigation, it was Nsengiyumva who shot Hassan, and then fled. He had been actively sought since, MINUSTAH said.

It was not yet clear how Nsengiyumva died.

Police Commissioner Tabasky Diouf “deplored” what he called a “double tragedy,” passing his condolences on to the families of the victims and their comrades in the Rwandan unit.

The UN has initiated a probe into both incidents, which is ongoing. Last week, the force said early findings suggested an accidental shooting of Hassan.



19 Sep
By Fanny Kaneza                              Published on 2012-09-19 17:27:04

KIGALI – A customer and a bank clerk nearly came to blows recently in Kigali. The customer had asked the clerk to help him fill in the withdrawal slip in English, but the clerk refused. “How are we supposed to be able to fill in a document in English if you can’t do it yourself?” asked the angry customer.

For most Rwandans, English is a foreign language although its usage in banks, shops, the media and administration has significantly increased. As many Rwandans do not understand it, they struggle with paperwork and end up avoiding English-only stores and businesses altogether.

In the streets of Kigali, French and Kinyarwanda (Rwandan) shop signs have been overtaken by English. The same phenomenon is also taking place in the media. Rwanda’s only free-to-air TV station TVR, which is state-owned, broadcasts English-language programs from the BBC, Voice of America, Deutsche Welle and South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC). Chronicles and news bulletins make up the only truly national programs. English also prevails on private radio.

“It’s as if banks and radio stations don’t want to reach the majority of Rwandans,” says a villager from Bugesera, in the Eastern Province.

Kinyarwanda, French and English are Rwanda’s three official languages. The last national census, carried out in 2002, showed that 99.7% of Rwandans living in the country spoke Kinyarwanda, 3.9% spoke French, 1.9% spoke English and 3% Kiswahili (Swahili is used as a lingua franca in East Africa). Older Rwandan graduates only learnt French and their native language while younger ones have learnt a little English.

English is for snobs

Many Rwandans refrain from shopping in stores that label everything in English: “We’re afraid of buying pet-food by mistake if a clerk isn’t around to translate the labels,” jokes a man from Kigali. “Shop owners should have their products labeled in Kinyarwanda, which most people speak,” he adds.

“Banks and other financial companies, which require their customers to fill in forms, should translate their documents in several languages,” suggests a local economist. For him, “to chose one language for commercial use excludes a large number of customers.”

Meanwhile, a growing number of young Rwandans have stopped using their mother tongue. Public servants who were trained in French force themselves to speak English – even though they hardly know how to – “to practice or simply to show off.”

“Young snobs and intellectuals alike have taken to speaking English only,” notes a teacher from Butare, the country’s second largest city.

In 2008, the Rwandan government decided to change the medium of education and administration from French to English. The government wanted “to give precedence to the language that would make Rwandans more competent.” They justified their decision by saying English was the language of business and would facilitate Rwanda’s integration into the East African Community (EAC) – whose members are all Anglophones.

“But graduates from Rwandan universities speak a broken mix of languages. Their English is not good enough to compete with their Anglophone neighbors,” explains a professor from the National University of Butare.

Three years after establishing English as Rwanda’s education and administration official medium, the government partly reversed its decision. Kinyarwanda is now the official language for the first three years of primary school education.

It’s worth it to note that Rwanda, which has been a member of the International Organization of La Francophonie since the 1970s, joined the Commonwealth in 2009.